I started playing soccer as a 7-year-old. It was my first experience in organized sports, and I loved it. The problem was that I was the size of a 5-year-old and by far the smallest kid on the field. I didn’t get much playing time—but not because the coach was mean or unfair. Those were the days before mandatory equal playing time was a thing. He was a nice man, who I am convinced was afraid the ball would destroy me if it hit me. Nobody likes to sit on the bench, and it ripped my heart out. I knew I could play and believed I should be playing more. I’ll never forget riding home after one game and suffering in dejected silence when my dad asked, “What’s wrong, bud?”
As I started to share my frustration, no words came out. I burst into tears, managing to choke out, “I just want to play!” I don’t remember what Dad said next or anything else that was said on the ride home, but I will always remember him looking at me in the rearview mirror and saying, “You will get bigger, faster and better. Stay with it. Your time will come.”
“You will get bigger, faster and better. Stay with it. Your time will come.”
He was right. Two seasons later, I led the league in scoring and was selected for the all-star team. That lesson from my dad has stayed with me and sustained me on the journey to fulfill my purpose.
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Some of you might feel exactly like that 7-year-old kid who just wants to get in the game. Instead of playing, you find yourself sitting on the sidelines, even though you know you could do it if you just had the chance.
But there’s purpose in the waiting. It might not be fun at the time, but the waiting grows you and refines you. It definitely humbles you. And it prepares you for the work you’ll do in the future.
When you’re pursuing your dream job, you will have weeks, months—probably years—of waiting while you’re in the process of getting from the point of having the dream to the point where the dream becomes real.
You’ve probably heard me talk about the seven stages of finding your dream job: Get Clear, Get Qualified, Get Connected, Get Started, Get Promoted, Get Your Dream Job and Give Yourself Away. Each of those stages takes perseverance, patience and plenty of time watching other people reach (what seems like) overnight success, while you continue to inch forward.
Other people will get opportunities that you feel should’ve gone to you. Other people will get noticed for their hard work when you feel like you’ve worked twice as hard. You might have to take jobs that don’t take full advantage of your skills. Do it anyway. Keep going anyway.
When I was stuck in my job and started over by working toward my dream of being a broadcaster, there was no way for it to happen quickly or easily. And it wasn’t exactly glamorous. I went to broadcast school with 20-year-olds (while I was in my mid-30s!). I recorded my first podcast in a 5-foot-by-5-foot sound booth—with no air conditioning—in the heat of a Georgia summer. I spent years finding the right people and right places and built relationships from the ground up. And you know what? Every single part of it was worth it to get where I am today—helping people who are going through exactly what I went through.
So if you’re not who you want to be or where you want to be yet . . . take my dad’s advice.
“Stay with it. Your time will come!”
Want to read more about how to get the job you love? I’m so excited to share my new book, The Proximity Principle —available now!
About Ken Coleman
Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.